Flying Under The Radar, Jeff Proctor and Honda Racing Wins A Second Baja 1000

Honda Performance Engineering developed the engine from its turbocharged V6 Indy motor

The IndyCar-based twin turbo engine breathes through a pair of AEM conical filters

The Honda Off Road Racing Team was at a bit of a disadvantage at the Baja 1000 this year. No, it’s not because the team won the previous year’s Baja 500 or it was defending its Baja 1000 win from 2016. No, it’s because last year they debuted the 2017 Ridgeline in an all-new truck, won their category, and generated tons of press. This year, running the same truck with some upgrades, it was hard to get the media to notice.

If you’ve ever been to Baja California, you know how challenging the terrain can be. How dirt and dust can work their way into every moving part of the truck grinding seals and bearing to failure, how rocks and debris can batter the underside, bending suspension components or snapping the driveshaft. Rocks kicked up by other vehicles can knock out your headlights or any of the 999,995 ways fate can take you out of the 1000. So even if the spotlight wasn’t as bright as last year, the challenge was just as great.

Originally a motocross rider, the main man behind Proctor Racing Group is Jeff Proctor, who is not only the lead driver but also manages every detail of the team’s entire race operation.

The custom built unlimited off-road Class 2 race vehicle is backed by (HPD) Honda Performance Development, the racing arm of American Honda Motor Company, Inc.

With the highest attrition rate of any auto race, just finishing the 1000 is a thrill

At the Baja 1000 there's a 50% failure rate yet the Honda Ridgeline won its class a second time

The Unlimited Ridgeline features a twin-turbocharged Honda HR35TT V6 engine based on Honda’s Indy Car motor. The vehicle also features the best parts and technology available in off-road including, an Albins ST6 sequential transmission, Fox racing shocks, rugged General Grabber tires, Rigid LED Lights, KMC Wheels new Machete Wheel and off-course massive dual AEM air filters.

At the start of the 2016 Baja 1000, the Honda team caught a lucky break. They were started with slower Ultra4 cars which allowed them to pull ahead while still on the pavement. With no one in front kicking up dust, it allowed them to run at a fast, but conservative pace all the way to Santo Thomas, about 50 miles south of the start in Ensenada, as the crow flies.

Later the team encountered a stuck vehicle blocking the course by Ojos Negros, further up the course. A blind corner forced the team to back up, but sunk into the soft sand instead. Unfortunately by the time they’d extracted themselves they’d lost their advantage to the Ultra4 cars.

As is often the case in Baja, the team suffered an unexplained component failure, in this case the differential. To make matters worse it took the service truck three hours to reach the race truck.

At times its difficult for service teams to navigate from the main roads to the remote race course

A differential failure cost the team three hours as they waited for the service crew

This year’s Baja 1000 was a double loop around Ensenada, Mexico. Rather than the 1000 miles racers would cover in a race down the peninsula, the loop race is slight shorter at 849 miles. So when Jeff Proctor hopped behind the wheel at mile 815, he commented that “you would think the last 50 miles or so would be easy. But Baja is never easy. We encountered even more stuck vehicles in the last miles. We had to bushwhack through the brush and find other ways to get around them.”

At the Baja 1000, over 50 percent of starters failed to see the checkered flag, yet the Honda Ridgeline not only finished the race, but won Class 2 for the second year in a row.

AEM would like to congratulate Honda Performance Development and everyone at the Proctor Racing Group on their stellar performance.